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Gingival Contouring

Posted in cosmetic dentistry, and Dental Care

Gingival Contouring – What is It?

More commonly known as gum or tissue sculpting (reshaping) of the areas supporting your teeth (periodontal). The procedure either increases or lowers gum height against the teeth. Most often gingival contouring is done for cosmetic reasons. But there are also situations where it is needed more practically for dental health.

Too Low

A very common condition where gingival contouring is used, is for gum recession. Gum recession is where the gums pull back from the teeth. If in late stages and severe, tooth roots can become exposed and vulnerable to decay. Pocket reduction is sometimes needed to repair bone and tissue and gingival contouring could be part of that procedure. Gum disease is another situation where gum contouring might be used to restore tissue surrounding your teeth, but most dentists will try less invasive cures first. Antibiotics and dental cleanings might be a first step to solve periodontal disease.

Too High

Gingival contouring is also used in situations where gum tissue grows higher than normal. Some people just geneticaly show less teeth. And, It sometimes happens that gum tissue or parts of it grow over crowns and other dental work. In this situation, what do you think? Is it “cosmetic” or “medically necessary”?  Your dentist can make a good argument for “medically necessary” but your insurance company may feel different.


Because gingival contouring is often used cosmetically for people who feel self-conscious about their gum line being either too low or high, insurance companies can object to it and not pay under certain conditions. Of course, it varies between companies, but even “medically necessary” gingival contouring claims can be denied or partially paid. If you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to talk to your insurance company first.

The Procedure Itself

Because of its simplicity the procedure is usually completed in just one visit. Your dentist (sometimes a Contouring Specialist) will use a laser to remove excess gum tissue. This technology seals or cauterizes the gum while it cuts, so bleeding is not an issue, and stitches are not required.  Although the treatment is relatively painless, anesthetic is often applied to numb the area to be contoured. In the featured image you can see the difference gingival contouring can make in the appearance of your smile. If you feel uncomfortable or awkward about the appearance of your gums, talk to Dr. Mathews at Erbsville Dental. He sees thousands of gum lines every year and can give you a pretty good idea about what is “normal” and what could be contoured.   

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Accordingly, always seek the advice of your Dentist or other healthcare providers regarding a dental condition or treatment.